The China-Belarus industrial park Great Stone is a special economic zone, which offers preferences and allows companies to successfully build their business. What encourages companies to seek registration in the park and what advantages the status gives to Belarusian and foreign businesses? These matters and future plans on developing the China-Belarus industrial park Great Stone were covered by First Deputy Head of the Great Stone Industrial Park Administration Piotr Yakimov during the international roundtable session “Guangzhou-Minsk: with confidence in future”. The roundtable session took place in the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research (BISR), BelTA has learned.
What encourages companies to become part of the industrial park?
Piotr Yakimov said: “The Great Stone is a project, which opens up broad opportunities for stronger cooperation between China and Belarus. Belarus was one of the first countries to support China's Belt and Road initiative. At present the initiative covers many countries and continents. It gave a powerful impulse to the development of infrastructure, manufacturing sector, international ties, and allowed developing the transfer of technologies and innovations.”
The heads of state pay close attention to the China-Belarus industrial park Great Stone. When China President Xi Jinping visited the construction site of the China-Belarus industrial park Great Stone in May 2015, he described it as a pearl of the economic belt of the new Silk Road. Over the course of nearly seven years the project became a center of attraction of technologies and capital for companies from all over the world, Piotr Yakimov said.
Business advantages in the China-Belarus industrial park Great Stone include a special legal regime, tax preferences, well-developed infrastructure, and access to target markets. At present 89 companies from 15 countries are registered in the park. The volume of declared investments stands at $1.24 billion. Of the total figure over $750 million has already been invested in the park's development. The resident companies have created over 1,800 jobs. Apart from that, virtually half of the companies have started commercial activities in the park.
Various investment projects are being implemented in the China-Belarus industrial park Great Stone but the areas in focus include mechanical engineering, electronics, telecommunications, scientific research and R&D, production of new materials, biotechnologies, pharmaceutics, manufacturing of medical goods, big data storage and processing, integrated logistics, digital commerce, and innovative activities.
Cooperation with Chinese resident companies of the park
According to Piotr Yakimov, more and more Chinese companies are becoming residents of the park. At present 47 companies (more than half of the total number) represent enterprises with Chinese capital, he said.
"The largest Chinese residents of our park are companies like China Merchants Group, which provides a wide range of services in the field of integrated logistics. The joint venture Weichai-Bel makes Euro-5 and Euro-6 engines. FAST-MAZ Company makes multi-speed gearboxes for heavy-duty vehicles. Zoomlion Company manufactures heavy truck cranes. Chengdu Xinju Silk Road Development Company produces supercapacitors, which are the core element of electric vehicles," the first deputy head of the park administration said.
Traditional Chinese medicine has become a new direction in the development of the park. "Several residents have already been registered. They intend to produce medicines and provide the relevant services. We see quite big prospects in this area," the Great Stone representative added.
As for residents from Guangdong Province, 15 of them are registered in the Great Stone park. Huawei and ZTE are some of them. “The rest of the companies work in such areas as the manufacturing of LED products, integrated logistics, electric transport, unmanned systems and R&D work," Piotr Yakimov said.
A joint innovation center is supposed to open in the industrial park. It has been created by the Guangdong Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus. "This center specializes in research and development in the field of industrial and digital technologies as well as new materials, biotechnologies and pharmaceutics. In general, it is a ready platform for cooperation in the scientific and technical field," he stressed.
Innovations in legislation
The creation of subparks is another very important activity of the Great Stone park. "The legal framework allows the development of this area. Belarus president decree No. 215 came into force last year. This document provides for many innovations, including defining preferences for the creation of subparks. In particular, integrator companies are given the authority to fully develop sites as large as they want. They can create internal infrastructure, facilities, and so on within the boundaries of such sites," said Piotr Yakimov.
In addition, subpark integrator companies can enjoy the same benefits as resident enterprises. "We see great opportunities for cooperation not only with Guangdong but with the Greater Gulf region as a whole as one of the largest financial centers not only in China but the entire world," the official stated.
The decree also expanded the priority areas for the development of the industrial park. In particular, such areas as biopharmaceutics, the production of medical goods, and laboratory diagnostics were added.
In addition, benefits for large investors have been defined and powers of the Great Stone administration have been expanded. “Our one-stop shop practice allows us to carry out almost all administrative procedures right in the park. Most of these procedures have been digitized and do not require personal presence of the applicant,” the official explained.
Another document that determines activities of the Great Stone park is Directive No. 9 "On the development of bilateral relations between Belarus and the People's Republic of China". The directive was adopted in December 2021. "This directive opens up opportunities for large companies with investments of $50 million or more as well as enterprises specializing in traditional Chinese medicine," he said.
Further plans and prospects for the development of the Great Stone park
Piotr Yakimov said that work is underway on new areas of development in view of the restrictive measures. “We have registered a Chinese resident company specializing in financial technologies – the R&D company Bel Samoyed Cloud. Active work with the company is now underway in the field of adaptive technical solutions in the sphere of financial and banking operations for Belarus,” the official said.
Digital trade platforms represent a separate line of activity for the park. “In the near future we plan to open a Belarusian pavilion on such platforms as JD.COM, Douyin, and other ones. In the future we intend to develop in this direction,” he added.
Speaking about projects meant to develop transport and logistics infrastructure, Piotr Yakimov noted that work is underway to create a multimodal terminal in the park. “We are also actively working to establish cooperation with large logistic companies and hubs, including from China. In particular, last week we held talks with the International Land Port of Gansu (Lanzhou). The Chinese partners are interested in advancing cooperation with Belarus, including in order to increase rail freight traffic from China to Belarus and back," the first deputy head of the park administration said.
He also pointed out that that the Great Stone park is busy advancing cooperation with the Russian Federation. "We quite often hold business meetings with representatives of Russian regions. We receive delegations. This is a priority direction not only for the park but also for the country's economy as a whole," the official stated.
As for the measures the government has adopted to prop the economy, Piotr Yakimov noted that residents of the park are hereby given the right to carry out cryptocurrency mining on par with resident companies of the Hi-Tech Park in order to implement investment projects in the digital economy.
"Despite the difficult situation in the world Belarus and China continue consistently building up cooperation across the board. The Great Stone park is a vivid example of how a common desire for innovation, mutual benefit and moving forward gives a good result in practice," the official concluded.